Advertisement

Amid growing controversy, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame sheds light on induction process

    The whole point of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is to immortalize bands who have made a substantial contribution to popular music. That’s a lot easier said than done. Recently, the Hall of Fame has received criticism over its decision to omit certain band members from the class of 2014.

    Original Nirvana drummer Chad Channing was originally informed that he’d be inducted alongside Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic, before a text message from the HoF revealed otherwise. Additionally, Dave Grohl was immediately granted entry, despite his status as a “replacement” rendering him technically ineligible. There’s also been no mention of Pat Smear, who played on several popular or influential Nirvana songs.

    Similarly, despite “having been in the band for decades and played on multi-platinum albums and toured the world,” KISS’s Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer received the snub in favor of original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. Iconic acts like Public Enemy, Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, and Heart have also endured similar controversies regarding the snubbing of members.

    Advertisement

    So, then, the question begs to be asked, why are certain members included while others are excluded? How exactly does the HoF make their rulings? For answers, Billboard sat down with Rock Hall Foundation President and CEO Joel Peresman.

    While Peresman was responding primarily to the KISS controversy, he shared plenty of insight into just how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame approaches bands with lineup variations. For the induction process, Peresman said the HoF employs “an adjunct group of scholars and historians familiar with specific inductees and genres.” However, he stressed a sentiment most are undoubtedly aware of by now: “This isn’t chemistry or physics. It’s not an exact science.”

    He added, “Sometimes there’s an entire body of work up until (the artists) are inducted, other times it’s a specific period of time that established the band as who they are. With KISS there wasn’t one person here who didn’t agree that the reason KISS was nominated and is being inducted was because of what was established in the ’70s with Ace (Frehley), with Peter (Criss), with Paul and Gene (Simmons). That’s what put them on that map.”

    Advertisement

    For Peresman and the HoF, KISS represented a unique situation: while both Singer and Thayer are talented in their own right, the pair “basically have the same makeup and are the same characters that Ace and Peter started. It’s not like they created these other characters with different makeup and playing different songs.” Peresman mirrored a similar situation when discussing Heart’s induction, with the core sextet being voted in and not their ever-changing lineup of contributing musicians from the ’70s.

    Since the announcement of their induction, KISS has been vehement in arguing that all six members should be included. Also speaking to Billboard, Paul Stanley said the HoF has a history of inconsistencies when it comes to voting in bands, referencing both Red Hot Chili Peppers (guitarist Josh Klingoffer was inducted over other members despite being in the band for just five years) and the Grateful Dead (who threatened a boycott if all 12 members weren’t inducted back in 1994). Added Stanley, “The only consistencies are inconsistencies and the rules clearly are there are no rules because the criteria for how and who gets in is purely based upon a personal like or dislike.”

    On KISS’s official website, Stanley responded to Peresman’s comments directly:

    “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame continues to attempt to restore its questionable credibility and glimpses behind the facade with nonsense and half truths. The truth is Joel Peresman and the rest of the decision makers refused to consider the induction of ANY former KISS members and specifically the late Eric Carr and Bruce Kulick who were both in the band through multi platinum albums and worldwide tours and DIDN’T wear makeup. There is no getting around the reality that the Hall of Fame’s favoritism and preferential treatment towards artists they like goes as far as ASKING the Grateful Dead how many members THEY wanted the hall to induct and following their directive while also including a songwriter who was never in the actual band.  Let’s just accept the truth as it is and move on.”

    Advertisement

    For more on some of the HoF’s controversial decisions, head over to Future Rock Legends, who offer some great insight into RHCP and Metallica’s inductions. Below, enjoy some Channing-era Nirvana and KISS with Singer and Thayer.

Advertisement
Advertisement